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Cambridge University Science Magazine

Patients with heart disease have a five times greater chance of dying from COVID-19 than their counterparts with healthy hearts. Viral particles in autopsy cardiac tissue from COVID-19 patients suggest a negative impact on patients' hearts generally. In a paper from July this year, scientists from the University of Cambridge have started to tackle this, identifying two potentially cardioprotective drugs against COVID-19.

SARS-CoV-2—the causative agent of COVID-19—infects cells by using its ‘spike proteins’ to bind to ACE2, a protein present on many human cells. The study reports two drugs previously unused in this area which may have cardioprotective properties against SARS-CoV-2: DX600, which prevents the virus from entering the cell by blocking access to ACE2; and benztropine, a drug used to treat Parkinsonism, which prevents viral infection via a poorly understood mechanism. DX600 reduced SARS-CoV-2 infection of heart cells by around 40 per cent, while benztropine reduced infection rates by 55.5 per cent. 

These findings therefore represent a positive step towards developing new treatments for COVID-19. As expressed by Professor Anthony Davenport, one of the co-authors of the study, “we need to do further research on [DX600], but it could provide us with a new treatment to help reduce harm to the heart.”